Your Sons and Your Daughters Are Beyond Your Command

I spent Saturday night in a crowded hot room above a coffee shop, writing notes to Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.

I know, right? But listen to this girl, Emma Gonzalez:

I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we’ve had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying ‘it is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.

Listen to her, and be ashamed of your cynical assumption that nothing’s going to change.

I got tired of listening to people talking about how there’s nothing we can do, that this is just the way we live now, and when a meetup popped up near me offering the chance to write postcards to elected officials, I signed up. When I did, there were three people committed to come.

By the time I got there, there were 20.

There weren’t enough chairs. People shared lists. Everyone brought food. Lots of people brought their kids. A man walked around pouring glasses of water and wine. The room, above a coffee shop, was warm.

An elderly woman couldn’t make it up the stairs and sat down at the door writing postcards. To Paul Ryan. To Donald Trump. To Mike Pence. To John McCain and every other senator who took money from the NRA. To our senators. To everyone else’s.

Would they read them? someone asked. That’s not our problem, the organizers answered. We do what we can.

A group of kids sat at one table, and by kids I mean girls and boys too young for PG-13 movies, and they wrote things like, “I don’t want to be here tonight but because of you I don’t have a choice.” They wrote things like, “Save my friends. Save me.” An adult asked if there had been any communication from their school about what had happened, remembering bulletins about Columbine and Virginia Tech, asking if the school had offered counseling.

“Nothing,” one of the girls replied. “They didn’t tell us a thing.”

How dare we tell children like these that nothing’s going to change? How dare we tell them nothing IS changing? How dare we disappear the everyday work that is being done by activists at every level, from the township on up? How dare we act like our glib, snide asides are written in stone?

Listen to Emma Gonzalez. This isn’t over. It’s barely begun. Our surrender is an insult to their rage.

One of the kids offered to help with the postcards I and the women at my table were making. Carefully, onto each one, they glued tiny pictures of victims of school shootings, their small fingers pressing down on faces that could have been their own.

A.

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